An excellent choice for alternative heating, a pellet stove is just like any other household appliance. It requires maintenance. Since you can’t hide and hope the fireplace fairy takes care of things, it’s best to know exactly what sort of maintenance and cleaning needs to be done on this green product.
Clean Out the Ashes
First you’ll have to remove the ashes left over from previous use. Since your biomass furnace or pellet stove actually burns a wood by-product (generally the pellets are made from sawdust and bits of leftover wood shavings), it will leave residue similar to a wood burning fireplace.
Clean Out the Hopper
Make sure that you remove all of last year’s pellets and give the hopper (this is where the pellets are stored) a good vacuum.
Wash the Glass
Use a specialty fireplace glass cleaner (not your regular old blue stuff, because it’s actually high heat ceramic you’re looking through) to wipe down the glass doors on your pellet stove. This will help you enjoy the view while heating your home with an efficient, renewable fuel.
Hire a Chimney Sweep
Creosote is name given to hardened soot and it poses an incredible danger to your home. Just like a regular fireplace, the chimney on your pellet stove will need to be cleaned at least once a year to remove the creosote build-up and reduce the chance of fire.
Don’t try this on your own. Hire a pro to make sure that this step is done right.
If you need to replace your unit or you’re thinking of upgrading from your current alternative heat source, you may be able to handle the installation yourself. The venting system can be tricky and the calculation of clearances may trip up some DIYers.
Read through the manual. Carefully. And don’t be afraid to call in the pros on this one. You get to take care of the maintenance, after all.
Photo courtesy of flickr/jhirtz